Anjan Das

Sudhir Sharma is a member of CII National Committee on Design since its inception. He has played an instrumental role in driving and supporting the CII Design initiatives in the last few years.

The Designindia – an online yahoo group founded by Mr.Sudhir Sharma is a great initiative to get the Design-passionate people together to discuss on various aspects of Design. Some of his important contributions to CII include:

  • Planning interactive sessions in 7 cities simultaneously in the country to collect inputs on design Policy draft on behalf of CII. Through Designndia, he created a movement amongst the Design Community bringing them together to provide inputs for the National Design Policy that was drafted during 2006-07.
  • Speaking at 2nd Symposium of University-Industry Council organized by CII in May 2008 in Mumbai. Mr.Sharma also has a good understanding of Industry-academia partnerships and how to establish the same between both,
  • Participating as an expert at the World Economic Summit (Sustainability Conclave) organized by CII in November 2008 in New Delhi. He has now been invited to join the Global Design Council of World Economic Forum
  • Playing the key role in conceptualizing, planning & organizing the first-ever weeklong India Design Festival held in Feb 2009 in Pune. He made efforts to get various partners, speakers & sponsors onboard and also encouraged various organizations to host events during the festival. His self-initiative, personal contacts & involvement for raising sponsorship and getting key speakers and commitment to make it a big event helped in making it possible to host and organize such a large scale event for the first time in India.
  • Helping actively in forming a Design association under CII, getting the partners, providing all support & inputs. After the success of the online forum- Designindia, he has been actively discussing with CII on the possible initiatives that may be taken to enhance the growth of Indian Design Sector. Not limiting his interests to his business alone, he has a vision and a selfless thinking that helps him plan and continuously support initiatives that benefit Design in India at national as well as international level.
  • Helping CII to come out with the First India Design Report, along with his team at Elephant.  It was his brilliant idea to put together a book of Indian Design Resources in the country as a reference book for the industry. The book came out very well and received good appreciation, thus helping in promoting of design sector in India.
  • Launching of Elephantversity Institute of Innovation, with his vast network of Design experts from India & overseas, with a vision to create a platform to spread design thinking and to promote design to the industry through executive programs. This itself is an example of his great potential, as a visionary and entrepreneur.

Apart from the fact that he has put in selfless and committed efforts for the development & growth of Design sector in India, he is a great human being with a pleasing personality, always ready to help.  He has been always available for any kind of help/support required for the CII Design initiatives.

We wish him success in all the future endeavors and look forward to continuing to work with him on furthering the growth of Design sector in India.

Anjan Das
Senior Director & Head
Technology, Innovation, IPR & Life Sciences
Confederation Of Indian Industries (CII)
New Delhi, India


Hrridaysh Deshpande

Dear Sudhir,

Tomorrow is “Guru Pournima”. I am writing to you taking advantage of the occasion. In modern times, someone from whom you learn is to be considered a “Guru” and you are my “Guru”. I have learnt a lot from you and continue to learn. On this occasion I wish that I carry on learning and you carry on astonishing me with your knowledge as always.

I still very vividly remember the September of 2007 at Goa during Kyoorius Design Yarta where the seeds of our association got sowed. At that time I was contemplating what exactly to do next, post my “Creative-i College” episode. The informal discussions ignited the very unique concept called “Elephantversity” – an Institute of Innovation. The discussions followed a series of meetings we had at Elephant to formalize the concept and finally I joined the ship on April 15, 2008.

All the way it was you who steered the ship in new waters. There are many instances where you provided right direction to this very unique concept of an institute of innovation. While across the world, there was talk about using design process for innovation, in India, there was no one who was doing anything concrete in this direction. You foresaw this and created Elephantversity. This itself is an indicator of your foresight and your hand on the pulse of what is happening around the world.

When the question of having eminent advisors for the institute came up, you single handedly got an impressive array of advisors on board. Right from industrial luminaries like Rajiv Bajaj and Atul Kirloskar to international innovation thinkers like Eero Mietinnen, GK Van Patter, Uday Dandavate everyone responded positively in single instance of your writing to them. This indeed is a testimony to the confidence these people had in you.

Traveling with you to Helsinki was also quite an experience. An institute which had barely started thinking of signing cooperation agreement with an institute in Design Mature country of Finland was an achievement in itself.

There are many more such instances which created the institute that it is today. I would not mention all of them. Your presence in Elephant has always been electrifying. Your leadership in terms of other new initiatives at Elephant also is something worth mentioning here. For instance, copper products initiative. On one side where designers and design houses have been talking about using design for social impact, you created a scalable business model through copper products which would support many artisan families. Your role in sewing up strategic partnership with Continuum, RKS is another case in point about your strategic vision.

All in all, I feel fortunate to have been associated with you and having had an opportunity to learn from you. I offer my sincere regards to you and close my monologue.

Sincere regards!

Hrridaysh Deshpande
Director, D
06th July 2009


Sagarmoy Paul

The news of Sudhir’s departure from Elephant has come as a big surprise to many, because more than anyone else, he has been the most articulate face of Elephant Design, and also Indian design in recent times. Whatever be the cause of the rift at Elephant, it is sad because they (Elephant partners) have become role models of many young start-ups. Elephant has also demonstrated the fact that designers can work together, keeping aside their proverbial egos and grow. The success of Elephant must be attributed to great teamwork, confidence and of course, performance. But I suppose everything and everyone has its own shelf space and circumstances! And I wish both Elephant and Sudhir all success. Sometimes circumstances shake our inertia and clear stagnation. That’s not bad for any relationship – professional or personal, even if it means a new beginning.

I have known Sudhir for 26 years, ever since he, along with all other Elephants and my kid brother Saikat, joined NID in 1983. Since Sudhir and Saikat had been close friends, I had always treated him like my younger brother. In that sense, anything I say about him will be indulgent.

Sudhir has always kept in touch and we met in conferences and exhibitions once in a while. Ever since he has floated “designindia” yahoogroup we have been communicating more often, sometimes vehemently disagreeing with each other’s
views. Later he had also invited me to become one of the co-moderators of designindia.

There are many qualities to Sudhir, which, if I write may sound sentimental and flattering. Let me try.

Sudhir did not have a godfather, nor an impressive post or affiliation of a big design institute (apart from being a pupil). And yet he has been able to bring together the professional designers cutting across disciplines and institutes, forge alliances with trade bodies like CII and promote Indian design with feverish zeal. Formulation of Designindia is a big achievement. It has become the de facto mouthpiece of Indian design, where Heads of design institutes post their farewell speeches and the new ones discuss the roadmaps for future. Where such important issues like formulation of Design Council is discussed passionately.

Sudhir didn’t just float this peer group but had successfully taken it offline as one of the organisers of yearly CII-NID Design Conferences. Be it Designer portfolio of CII or promoting Kyoorius Designyatra, he is relentlessly trying to bring
Indian designers together. Something he has succeeded in more than any institute ever managed. It is to Elephant’s credit that they made it possible for Sudhir to carry out his work. But then, Sudhir and Elephant were never thought of separately till now. He travels widely and connects with designers everywhere whom he didn’t even know. True, there are people who also say that he is a publicity seeker and a networker. But then that option is open to everyone. Why don’t critics invest their time and effort for the profession like he does without personal benefit?

Before Sudhir became one of the voices for Indian designers, it was always monopolised by academicians of reputed design institutes, many of whom have no connection with the ground reality and issues of professional designers, and yet
routinely represented designers in Design forums at home and abroad. Today, thanks to his efforts, professional designers have found a foothold in decision-making bodies on design. He has also been recognised and rewarded, as he became jury member in prestigious international creative forums.

One of the admirable qualities of Sudhir is his intension of taking everyone along. He is a good organiser, motivator and taskmaster. On the positive side he has all the qualities of a leader. He is a forward thinker and strategist and will be an asset wherever he goes. He has humility to seek opinion from people and never shies away admiring good qualities of others. I remember he once wrote that he was deeply inspired by Tesseract Design and Amardeep Behl – his successful senior designers from NID.

On the negative side, in my opinion, he lacks political correctness and a diplomatic demeanour. He can be a ruthless opposition and is not afraid of taking on the holy cows, even when not called for. Personally I wish he had more patience and a slower pace!

In a strange way his story resembles the story of the great Steve Jobs – that one day the company you have dreamt of, helped nurture and grow unceremoniously shows you the door. But like Jobs, that may very well be a blessing in disguise waiting for Sudhir. Job’s second coming is the stuff of folklores. Knowing Sudhir, I can only say he will not sit idle in past glory.

Sagarmoy Paul
Here is an excerpt from Steve Jobs’ inspirational speech at Stanford:

“…Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”